Yesterday, I was amongst a group of friends and associates where we meet weekly to talk about life experiences and how to make better decisions. An intimate, yet growing group of about 15-20 young men and women, we generally gather in a circle or around a table. On this night, we met in a small conference room because the facilitator needed the dry erase board. As we attempted to cram into the room, many of us spilled out past the door way and into the lobby-- about six of us outside of the room, listening intently. At about the halfway point of the meeting, one of the group regulars arrived and made his way past all of the attendees seated outside the room, all those lined along the wall, and made room for himself at the table. The facilitator acknowledged him and continued with the subject at hand—oddly enough, emotional intelligence.
About 10 minutes later, a passerby caught as I refilled my water cup and asked about the meeting. I explained to him what the group was and invited him to stay. He obliged and pulled up a stool next to me. Not 5 minutes later, he pushes his way from the back of the group. Without missing a beat, he proceeds to pitch his film and invites everyone to find his work, scribbling his contact information on the whiteboard over the facilitator’s guided exercise. The facilitator graciously thanked him and moved on. The crasher collects his things and leave.
Both of the men were white.
Both of these experiences gave me something to think about. Now, it’s something to be said about white privilege; it’s something to be said about male privilege, but white male privilege is truly something beyond. I know everything isn’t a matter of race or gender. I would imagine there are men and women of many diversity groups who might have just done the same. But my question is how well received would these experiences have been if it were a Black man amongst a group of white strangers? Or a woman amongst a group of male colleagues?
My question is what fuels blatant disregard for an entire community? Opportunist? General inconsideration? Is it maleness, whiteness, both or neither?